When you hear the word “emergency,” what do you think of? Perhaps an active shooter in the workplace. Or an incoming Category 3 hurricane. Those types of emergencies—the ones that show up on any 24/7 news channel—are real and substantial risks that your organization needs to be prepared for.
From a business perspective, you need to broaden your perspective for what qualifies as an “emergency.” The reality is there are many threats to business continuity that will never show up on the news.
Consider the broad set of business-critical activities—and the ways your emergency communication system can help you keep them running smoothly.
Take Advantage of Cutting-Edge Capabilities
First and foremost, an emergency communication system is a powerful tool that facilitates reliable, targeted communication during an emergency. That’s what it is designed to do.
But to get the most out of your software, focus on its capabilities. The very same capabilities that make a modern communication system so effective during a news-worthy emergency can help your company tackle a number of other business-critical challenges.
So, with that mindset, what is an emergency communication system, really? Well, it’s software that allows you to send messages out over multiple channels—voice, text, email, social media, intranet, and even custom channels. It can easily segment your employees in a variety of ways—by job title, office building, specialized training, or even their real-time GPS location. It can instantaneously set up a conference call with any subset of your organization. Its open API allows you to integrate it with just about any other internal system you’re already using. Everything is hosted in the cloud—meaning you can access it from any device, even using a mobile app.
Those are powerful capabilities. While you hopefully will never have to use them for something like a fire or active shooter, they ensure that if you do, your communication will be fast, effective, and reliable. But even if you’re lucky enough to avoid these types of emergencies, you can maximize your ROI by taking advantage of those same capabilities in new ways.
Here are the top five less-obvious uses for your notification system:
#1) IT and System Outages
For most companies, IT outages are their own type of emergency. Even though they might not threaten personal safety, their impact on business continuity can be enormous. Most business operations grind to a halt during an internet outage, and the panic from something like a power outage can take some time to recover from.
On top of that, network outages raise thorny issues for business communications. How is IT going to let the rest of the company know that they are aware of the issue and when to expect to be back online? Usually, company-wide IT notifications are sent to an email distribution list—but obviously that’s not an option when the internet is down or the power is out. Plus, employees likely aren’t even receiving emails to their laptops (unless they’ve been smart enough to set up a mobile hotspot during the outage).
By using a mobile device with data connectivity, though, companies can overcome this hurdle. Modern mass notification systems like AlertMedia offer emergency notification apps with all the same capabilities as the web-based software. In a matter of seconds, IT can send out a text message to employees with all the relevant information: what the problem is, when it should be fixed, and how to proceed in the meantime.
Sending text messages during an outage is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to streamlining IT alerts. Here are a few more ways that companies’ IT departments can get the most out of their notification system:
- Security breaches: Send an automated notification to on-call IT staff for help, escalating to senior management if necessary.
- Helpdesk tickets: Track tickets all the way to resolution, notifying requesters with updates throughout the process.
- ITSM notifications: Use maintenance reminders to ensure your IT team can step in before systems start to lag.
#2) Open Enrollment
One of the most stressful periods for any HR department is open enrollment. Whether you are launching new benefits programs or not, open enrollment is always a massive undertaking that requires consistent communication throughout the process.
First, you need to communicate ahead of time—so that your employees know that the open enrollment period is coming up and they can plan accordingly. Then, once it is time, you need to notify your employees that open enrollment has started. It is also important to send out periodic reminders to people that haven’t enrolled yet that open enrollment will only last for a limited time. If any employees miss their chance, they will likely have to wait a year before they get a chance to enroll again.
AlertMedia can streamline this communication process, from start to finish. Plus, by utilizing the survey feature, you can identify which of your employees have already enrolled and who still needs to—and then target subsequent reminders to only those who have not enrolled yet.
The other benefit of using your employee communication software for open enrollment is that it will make your HR department more comfortable using the system. In an emergency, it’s important that as many people and departments as possible are comfortable using the tool you have in place.
#3) Coordinated Logistics
While any company can benefit from IT alerts and surveys, operational alerts are much more industry-specific. If used correctly, though, automated operational alerts can be an extremely powerful tool.
For example, trucking companies can integrate their mass communications software into their internal systems to better synchronize the arrival of delivery trucks to their loading bays. One AlertMedia customer with a retail delivery fleet uses our system to auto-notify locations when a shipment is about to arrive, enabling them to load and unload quickly, which saves time and money.
That isn’t the only way that an emergency communication system can give transportation companies an edge. While nearly everyone in the industry now uses some form of transportation management system, those systems don’t have the dynamic communication capabilities that an emergency notification system like AlertMedia has. While transportation management systems are great for high-level logistics management, they aren’t designed to deal with the many small, day-to-day adjustments that are necessary to keep a fleet running at peak efficiency.
Using their emergency communication system, companies can send targeted alerts to all the drivers on a specific route. They can advise a driver to bring along chains to handle heavy snow on their route, or to avoid a certain road because of an avalanche warning. During severe weather events like hurricanes, dispatchers can make sure their drivers know when it’s safe to drive and when to stay off the road. If there is a road closure, instead of having to individually call or text each driver on an impacted route, dispatchers can send out a mass alert in a matter of seconds.
The opportunities to facilitate coordinated logistics using an emergency communication system are endless. If you want to read more about how AlertMedia helps its customers streamline their operations, check out our Operations and Logistics Use Case Guide.
#4) General Announcements
In every organization, there comes a time when everyone in the company needs to be on the same page. This can be for any number of reasons. Maybe there’s been a last-minute decision to close the office. Or perhaps there is planned maintenance in one portion of the building. It could even be something as simple as the coffee machine being broken!
In these situations, email is not going to get the job done. If it’s 7:00 am and you’ve decided to close the office, sending out a mass email to the company listserv may reach some of your people. But many others are already getting in their cars or won’t check their email until they get to the office.
Instead, you need to be able to reach your employees’ cell phones. This is where your emergency communication system comes in. It gives you a quick and reliable way to send out SMS messages company-wide—plus respond to any questions your employees have.
While you may not think of an office closure as an “emergency,” it certainly has the potential to throw a wrench in your operations if you are not able to communicate the necessary information quickly and reliably.
#5) System Testing
An emergency communication system is a powerful tool. If used properly during an emergency, it has the potential to streamline your business’s response—whether that means protecting key assets, minimizing office downtime, or keeping your people safe.
But the fact is, if you aren’t comfortable using the system, you risk defaulting back to your standard communication outlets in an emergency—whether that be email distribution lists or some other method. To prevent this, it’s important that you devote time to system testing.
By sending test messages—to different groups, over different channels, with different content—you can identify what is working the way you expect it to and what is not. Did someone not receive the message that you expected to? Maybe they need to be added to that group within your HRIS. Are you comfortable reading the results of a survey and responding to people within the system? The best way to find out is to send a message and see for yourself.
Increasing familiarity with the system in non-emergency contexts will ensure that when an emergency does arise, you will be ready.
Finding the Right Uses for Your Notification System
These five additional uses for your notification system are just a starting point. There’s no limit to the ways that a dynamic communication system like AlertMedia can benefit your organization. Every business is unique—and only you know how to best integrate an emergency communication system into your business.
If you want to maximize the ROI from your emergency communication system, the first step is shifting your mindset. Instead of just thinking of it as an emergency communication system, think about what it can do. By focusing on its capabilities, you can find new ways to integrate your emergency communication system into your everyday business operations.
Want to learn how AlertMedia can offer other uses for your notification system?